“In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:4–5, NASB95)
Life and light go hand and hand in Scripture as do death and darkness. Life and light are qualities shared among the Godhead, and they also reflect what God gives back to man. We’ve already discussed the fact that all that has been created has been created by the Son in cooperation with the Father. God gave life to man as we read in Genesis 1. And when man sinned he did not immediately die physically, but he did become spiritually darkened and separated from God. The Bible describes this as death, and this became the condition of all men. And this would have remained the condition of man, lost in darkness, except that God revealed Himself to man and called Him to walk by faith trusting in the Light which John says is the light of men. Even before Jesus was born, Scripture proclaimed His coming and men looked forward to their redemption by faith in that which they did not see.
In a physical sense at Jesus’ conception this human life was given to the infant born of Mary. But His life was more than physical, because He was born without sin, being conceived by the Holy Spirit and not of man. In God’s wisdom He chose this means as the means to bring salvation to man, and to return to him the life that was originally given at creation.
Man being lost in darkness needed the Light in order to see, and God sent light to man in the person of His Son. Later in the gospel of John we read, “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12, NASB95) Jesus was speaking to a mixed crowd where some believed and some did not (verse 31).
As Jesus continued to speak we even read of Him giving sight to a blind man in order to demonstrate His authority over enabling man to see. He used a physical miracle to demonstrate a spiritual truth. In doing so He said, “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” (John 9:5, NASB95) But even in saying this He also told them that at some time He would no longer be in their physical presence and that He as the Light would no longer be visible. The crowds did not understand this as they were expecting that the Christ would remain forever. They did not understand that in order to give life to them He first had to die then to be resurrected, but that He would later return. “So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you. Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light.”” (John 12:35–36, NASB95)
Having said this we immediately see in the Bible how pervasive the darkness was in many of their hearts and minds. “But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him.” (John 12:37, NASB95) In the verses which followed, John wrote about how this response was a fulfillment of prophecy when eyes would be blinded and hearts deadened.
The thread in John linking light and life contrasted to darkness and death is very strong, and the center of both—the hinge determining whether people live in the light or remain dead in darkness—is the person of the Christ. Later in John chapter 12 we read, “And Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.”” (John 12:44–46, NASB95)
Of believers we read, “for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light” (Ephesians 5:8, NASB95) As children of the Light we have the Light of Christ shining through us, and as we live before them we serve as His ambassadors to a world that desperately needs to see, understand, believe, and trust. Paul wrote that we become that source of light by how we live our faith writing, “so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,” (Philippians 2:15, NASB95)
Clearly not everyone will desire to move from darkness to light, and not everyone will look at us and see the difference that Christ makes in our lives and the hope that He gives. But, just as many did believe Him while He was present, and many believed the words of the prophets, so there have been and will be those who believe as we go into the world.
And one day all who believe have the great hope of abiding forever in the glory of God illumined by the lamp which is the Lamb. “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed;” (Revelation 21:22–25, NASB95)